MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Progress toward Dynamic Color-Responsive “Chameleon” Fiber Systems

Stephen S. Hardaker and Richard V. Gregory


Fibers and coatings with unique optical, magnetic, and electrical properties are being widely studied for use in both military and commercial applications. New materials are being developed in this research effort, with unique tunable coloration properties across the visible spectrum as well as spanning the infrared and ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. These dynamic color-responsive “chameleon” fiber systems will have wide application to a variety of new textile products. These new materials will also allow penetration into markets normally not dependent on textile materials. New markets, such as the optical communication and electronics market areas, will include bio-sensors, detector applications for textile materials, and “smart materials” that can change their color, hue, or depth of shade by application of a static or dynamic electric field for applications such as smart uniforms.


  • advanced fabrics;
  • dynamic color response;
  • fibers;
  • polymers

Stephen S. Hardaker is a research scientist with Battelle Memorial Institute's Advanced Materials Applications group in Columbus, Ohio. He received his BA degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, after which he spent several years as a process engineer for injection-molding and finishing of products for the consumer electronics industry before returning to Georgia Tech for his MS degree. His thesis work was related to the development of process–structure–property relationships in polyimides. He earned his PhD degree in polymer science from Clemson University in South Carolina, studying polyaniline, an electrically conductive polymer, and the development of a fiber spinning process and the associated process–structure–property relationships. Following his doctoral work, Hardaker remained at Clemson, studying a variety of electrically conductive and luminescent polymers and various processing methods for incorporating such materials into optical and electrical devices.

Hardaker may be reached at Battelle Memorial Institute, 505 King Ave., Columbus, OH 43201, USA; e-mail

Richard V. Gregory is the dean of the College of Sciences at Old Dominion University and the former director of the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Clemson University, where he also served as Thrust II leader in Clemson's National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Fibers and Films. Gregory's primary area of research is in electroactive and photonic polymeric fibers and films. He received his BS degree in chemistry in 1980 from Old Dominion University and a PhD degree in physical chemistry in 1984 from Clemson. He served as a research scientist with Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, S.C., prior to joining the Clemson faculty in 1990.

Gregory can be reached at the College of Sciences, Physics and Oceanography Building, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA; e-mail